By: Shalini Sinha
In India, festivals are the one thing that unite all castes, genders, races and classes. Festival week is the true mirror to the saying ‘unity in diversity’. One of such festivals is Ganesh Chathurthi. Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10 day long Hindu festival, celebrating the birth of the Hindu god, lord Ganesh. Devotees of Ganesh bring home a statue of the god and have rigorous prayers for the 10 days. Only recently, this festival came to an end this Sunday, marked by the grand festive day of Ganesh Visarjan.
Ganesh visarjan is the last day and grandest day of the whole Ganesh Chaturthi festival, where people start a march from their doorsteps with their idols of lord Ganesh, or more popularly called Bappa, and submerge it in a water body. The scenario on the water ghats and roads during the Ganesh Visarjan day is truly the ethos of the emotion that Bappa is for these people. Ganpati Bappa is not just an idol, region or god for the people, it is an emotion.
Ganesh Visarjan signifies the departure of the guest, Ganesh ji and is a goodbye so that he can visit their homes again next year. It is said that lord Ganesh arrives to his devotees’ homes to spread positivity and then finally takes away all their problems with him during his departure on visarjan day. Hence, Bappa’s immersion denotes to the immersion of people’s problems. Although, it sounds very delighting and amusing to just immerse your problems away, people are still captured with tears in their eyes. On one hand, the roads are filled with people marching and dancing in the middle of the roads on the traditional beats of the dhol and tasha. Dhol and tasha are instruments which are central to the enthusiasm and energy of these people. On the other hand, it is astonishing to see that people are weeping for the departure of some soulless statue and fading away of problems.
That is the catch! Bappa’s statue is not just a mere soulless idol for them; it is the power of their faith in the god that creates the soul in the mud statue. It is ground wrecking and overwhelming to see that people get so attached to Bappa in these 10 days that they weep as much as a mother weeps during her daughter’s wedding. It is almost unbelievable to see the exhaustive emitting of contrary emotions of happiness and sorrow back to back, on the same day. The sight of people on the visarjan day is eye opening. No matter male or female, the visarjan day is one day where no one stops anybody from dancing like no ones’s watching. No matter rich or poor, on the visarjan day, no one goes empty handed; if you put your hand forward, then it is assured that you will get the Prasad. Visarjan day is the epitome of the power of faith, that makes people forget all their stereotypes and pre-conceived notions and just celebrate with unity.
How does a mere idol of Bappa does so much? There are thousands of people who lead their whole life with the sole motive of bringing a change in the society. Nonetheless, despite of their extensive efforts, they are not able to achieve what Bappa achieves in just ten days. It is truly miraculous to witness and observe how just faith brings such a change in human behavior. If the power of faith keeps the people from discriminating, keeps them on the right path, then religion is not all that bad. On the visarjan day, people are out on the roads celebrating, but still the irritated and hurried car drivers do not hold themselves back from shouting “Ganpatti Bappa Mourya!” which is the chant they shout for Lord Ganesh. Near the water bodies, you can see the people shedding tears almost enough to fill the water body itself. So, is Bappa just an idol? No! He is indeed an emotion.
- The writer is studying media at FLAME University, Pune and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.